The Debrief: Double points in Diriyah

Maserati MSG Racing’s Chief Engineer, Cyril Blais, debriefs Diriyah with insights powered by Hewlett Packard Enterprise


When we returned to the deserts of Diriyah on the outskirts of Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, our objective was clear: Maximise track time, qualify well, execute a strategic weekend and score points in both races.


With two duel appearances, a pair of top 10 finishes, eight points on the board, and a 100% points-scoring record this season, the 2024 Diriyah E-Prix can only be described as a success.


Following the second race weekend of Formula E’s 10th season, our Chief Engineer, Cyril Blais, debriefs the first double-header event of 2024 using insights powered by Hewlett Packard Enterprise.


“While the weekend wasn’t without its challenges, overall, I think we can be happy with our performance in Diriyah,” says Cyril, who was named as Formula E’s Engineer of the Year in 2023.


“As a team, we know that we have the capabilities of delivering far more in terms of results, but in a championship as competitive as Formula E, scoring points consistently is the most important thing.


“After our strong start in Mexico City, we wanted to carry our performance forward, but I think we made the most of each opportunity which allowed us to take points away from both races in Diriyah.


“Compared to this stage last season, we’ve had one car advance to the duels in every race, we’ve finished inside the top 10 in every race, and we have 18 more points on the board.


“The performance evolution we’ve experienced over the past 12 months has been incredible.”


Fast and ferocious, the Riyadh Street Circuit has always been challenging but with low energy sensitivity and few overtaking opportunities, the Diriyah E-Prix is one of Formula E’s most strategic events.


As a result, qualifying well is incredibly important, but maintaining track position in race conditions is crucial to not only make up ground, but to stand with the chance of securing a top 10 finish.


“Coming back to Diriyah, we were very aware of the challenges that we were facing, and we knew that securing a good result in qualifying would essentially open our opportunities in the race,” continues Cyril.


“Our pace in practice was good and Max set the second-fastest time in his group to qualify inside the top eight. This was critical to our performance in Race One.


“The first race was very strategic and tactical, and we saw a very long game of cat and mouse unfold inside the top 10.


“Because it’s very difficult to overtake in Diriyah, every team was prioritising track position by waiting to find a suitable gap before taking Attack Mode.


“The Attack Mode time loss in Diriyah is quite high though, so whenever there was a suitable gap, it was important to the make the most of the opportunity while it was available.


“Max was very patient in this scenario, and with real-time data insights that we received from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, we were able to identify this gap, execute our strategy without sacrificing track position, and score some good points.”


While Max finished seventh on Friday, Jehan continued to show good progress in his debut season.


With insights in-hand, the 25-year-old focussed his efforts overnight, refined his performance further, and in doing so, executed the best race of his Formula E career so far on Saturday.


“Jehan is the only rookie on the grid in Season 10 and he’s on a very steep learning curve, but since testing, we’ve seen him make good progress in every single session,” explains Cyril.


“In Race One he found his rhythm quickly, and he was able to have good pace without compromising his energy management. It was very promising, so we were looking forward to Race Two.


“Saturday’s race was one lap shorter, and this meant that we had less energy saving to contend with. But at the same time, this also increased the importance of qualifying.


“Jehan did a very good lap to make it into the duels for the first time, and from fifth, we knew that we had a very good chance to score his first points in Formula E.


“His pace was good, but we lost some time when activating Attack Mode which cost us track position, but he still recovered well.


“Unfortunately, we ran into an issue on his car which forced him to retire which is a shame because with the performance he delivered, he deserved a top 10 finish.


“For Max, we knew that we were in for a difficult race when we missed out on the duels, but he delivered a strong, clean drive to recover to ninth.”


With the first three races of Season 10 complete, Maserati MSG Racing will next race on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil, on March 16. Preparations are already underway.


“I think we can take a lot of learnings from Diriyah, but from the results, we can see that we’re improving, especially in one-lap pace which has been very important so far in Season 10,” adds Cyril.


“In Formula E you always need to be on your toes, and we’re already looking ahead to see how we can improve our package for Brazil.


“The team is working well, our spirit is strong, we’ve had a good execution and we’re all pushing in the same direction, building momentum.


“São Paulo was a turning point for us as a team last season, so I’m hoping that we can deliver a strong result.”